Wake County Sheriff's Office implements new chase policy, reviews use of force rules

WAKE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Wake County Sheriff's Office has implemented a new chase policy, with deputies beginning their training this week.

"Our policy now is designed to take into account the seriousness of the offense...but also with the respect to being aware of traffic conditions, weather, your vehicle's operation, you know how low your vehicle is, is there pedestrian traffic," said Rick Brown, the Chief Legal Advisor for Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker.

The new rules will be discussed as part of the state's annual in-service training. Local departments are allowed to add their own portions on top of the state's requirements.

"If a deputy is able to safely apprehend an offender, they will. However, if it relates to the safety of motorists in a pursuit, it will be called off per a supervisor's decision," said Eric Curry, a spokesperson for the Wake County Sheriff's Office.

In May, five people were injured after a driver being pursued by a Wake County Sheriff's Deputy crashed into a vehicle and two motorcycles. The initial chase began after the deputy spotted the suspect's vehicle speed away from the scene of a crash on Capital Boulevard.

"Never again will we see the Wake County Sheriff's Office implement a chase until the wheels fall off policy," said Curry.

The State Highway Patrol uses a 55 miles per hour cap on pursuits. The sheriff's office did not specify if there was any speed limit cap they would use during chases.

The Wake County Sheriff's Office is also reviewing their use-of-force policy.

"Just be aware. Don't automatically think that you have to go to a certain level of force. Understand that we teach them, sometimes you've got no choice. If a person is pointing a gun at you, you don't have a lot of choices," Brown said.

In February, the department reached an $83,000 settlement with Kyron Hinton, an unarmed Raleigh man beaten by deputies during an arrest. The incident happened prior to Sheriff Gerald Baker's term.
Copyright © 2019 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.